Pete could barely keep his lunch down, turning away. It wasn't that he had never seen a body before, quite the opposite actually. The fact that it was someone he knew that was killed in such a brutal manner, is what made him want to hurl. The personal connection made it more difficult for him to handle, to the point where he got the officers to place a tarp on the body as soon as possible. Agent Avery noticed Pete's hesitation and proceeded to take over the scene and look for clues. He opened the cooler for a second and examined the hand without touching it.
"We'll get the lab to go over that hand and make sure it's authentic," Avery said as he closed the cooler. "Could just be something from a joke shop. I've seen that happen before."
"Fair enough," Pete said as he still kept his distance from the cart. "How was Joseph killed?"
"A bullet," Avery answered. "One straight to the head. Death was instant, so I doubt he felt it."
"Like the kids at the first scene," Pete replied. "The kids were clean kills, one shot and that's it. No torture like the rest of the victims."
"He's considerate to make the death of innocents painless," Avery observed as he put the tarp back over the body. "Rules out the chance he's a sociopath. They wouldn't care about such trivial details."
"I guess," Pete said as walked away from the cart to get some fresher air. He just wasn't feeling himself.
"If this hand is legit," Avery suggested, "this would rule out any cooperation on his part. I doubt anyone would be willing to give up their right hand willingly."
"Doubtful," Pete concurred as he walked up to one of the uniforms. "How many witnesses?"
"To the actual shooting?" the officer asked.
"Yes, what did they see?" Pete asked.
"Nothing," the cop replied. "No one was looking this way when it actually happened. The man was dressed in black and had a ski mask on. I think he pulled it down at the very last second and fired when he knew no one was paying attention. It was point blank, so I think he was pretending to buy something before shooting him."
"That's probably true," Avery called out. "There is a dog on the ground as well as a spoon. I think he was trying to put cheese on it when the shot was fired. There's blood everywhere, which would suggest a high-caliber weapon. What a mess."
"He's obviously trying to get my attention again," Pete said. "He doesn't want me off this case."
"No, he doesn't," Avery agreed. "Let's make it look like you are. He'll get angry and then maybe he'll get careless and make a mistake that will help us. Anger is a weapon, but only to one's opponent."
"Agreed," Pete said. "We'll stick to our original plan."
"Sounds good," Avery replied. "But we'll still work out of your department and help out as much as we can. I'll get a few probies to help out with your security footage. The sooner we find out how he got into the exchange building, the better. We need to get ahead of this bugger before he takes anyone else out. If Kyle is still alive, we need to move fast before we start finding more parts of him around town."
When Pete and Agent Avery returned to the station, the man from Homeland Security was true to his word. The task force dealing with the menace known as the Prophet saw a significant increase in workers as Homeland brought in more people to help Grozza and Pete with security footage. They still had hundreds of hours from the exchange building and then more hours of security footage from the apartment building where Mrs. Blitzer was killed.
Pete also had Agent Avery make more calls to see what effect, if any, the activities of the day had on the city and the market. All this preaching about the poor, and Pete couldn't help but think something that he was missing; the shooting of a hard-working man in the park was starting to dent his perception of the man fighting for the middle class. The Prophet could have also put that bomb anywhere for it to be a successful decoy. Why did he pick that building? Was Grozza right about the middle class and the crash being his real motive? Pete had to keep digging to find out if that was the case. If there was a motive they couldn't see, that could be the key detail that helped them find and bring this bastard in.
Pete knew their best chance to get ahead of Geronimo and catch him in the act. Pete didn't want this grand crusade to be true, he just couldn't handle someone going to such extremes to seek revenge against what happened in the economy.
Pete was still at his desk watching one of the security video from the security cameras when Agent Avery returned.
"What's the story, Agent?" Pete asked as he paused his tape.
"Positive ID on the hand," Avery answered. "It does belong to Blitzer. The prints on it match what his company has on file for security clearance. In case you're wondering, no one has attempted to break into Blitzer's company with his fingerprints, so that was not the motive for cutting off his hand."
"Same as the first killing," Grozza said "This reeks of personal vendetta to me."
At this point, Officer Jones returned from doing work at the Blitzer building. She looked tired but was eager to report.
"What did you find?" Avery asked.
"Who wants to know?" Jones replied.
"Relax, Jones," Pete called out. "This is Agent Avery of Homeland and that man over here is Agent Brown of the FBI."
"Special Agent," Brown corrected.
"My apologies," Pete said as he turned back to Jones. "Report."
"I didn't find anything else," she informed him. "Neither did forensics."
"Alright, we just need to keep looking." Pete scratched his chin. "I honestly believe grunt work and one mistake by the opposition is going to win this for us. Not pretty, but at this point I'll take it any way I can."